Beginning my studies the first step pleas'd me so much,
The mere fact consciousness, these forms, the power of motion,
The least insect or animal, the senses, eyesight, love,
The first step I say awed me and pleas'd me so much,
I have hardly gone and hardly wish'd to go any farther,
But stop and loiter all the time to sing it in ecstatic songs.
A son of the British Empire, Alan Turing's social origins lay just on the borderline between thelanded gentry and the commercial classes. As merchants, soldiers and clergymen, hisancestors had been gentlemen, but not of the settled kind. Many of them had made their waythrough the expansion of British interests throughout the world.
The Turings could be traced back to Turins of Foveran, Aberdeenshire, in the fourteenthcentury. There was a baronetcy in the family, created in about 1638 for a John Turing, who leftScotland for England. Audentes Fortuna Juvat (Fortune Helps the Daring) was the motto of theTurings, but however brave, they were never very lucky. Sir John Turing backed the losing sidein the English civil war, while Foveran was sacked by the Covenanters. Denied compensationafter the Restoration, the Turings languished in obscurity during the eighteenth century, asthe family history, the Lay of the Turings1, was to describe: